Managing Stress

Although much is talked in the media about this condition – normally bad stress – but actually feeling stress is perfectly normal when experiencing things such as exam time. It can be classified into two areas – the good and the bad. Sometimes at work it can be motivating (good stress) but there are times when you may feel incredibly overwhelmed resulting in difficulty in concentrating on anything (bad stress).

Are there benefits?

Yes – It is actually a burst of energy it helps you decide on what to do. In small doses it can help you meet regular challenges providing motivation to reach goals more efficiently. Amazingly it can even boost memory.

We are more aware of this condition when it acts as a warning system – fight or flight that alerts the sensors to danger keeping us safe! In fact the body produces chemicals that create a variety of reactions including increased heart rate and blood pressure.

What are the down sides?

Because we see so much about bad stress in the media we are aware that it can be detrimental to our health. This is especially true if you suffer from stress that is ongoing and prolonged. It causes conditions such as depression, sleeplessness and high blood pressure and can be harmful to your heart.

What is Too Much?

Image by Phúc Mã via Pixabay

As we are all different and our reactions to it will vary it can be difficult to tell whether you are suffering from the bad or the good. There are some key indicators when you are suffering from too much stress including:

  • Difficulty sleeping or feeling sleepy all the time
  • Frequent bouts of flu/colds or just generally aching
  • Feeling irritable/angry
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Eating too much or having no appetite at all

What can you do if you suffer from bad stress?

At Theale Wellbeing Centre we have a variety of therapists who can help you to manage this condition. Including

  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Reflexology

Winter Weather and Chilblains

Although the weather has been fairly mild so far it is likely that as we move through the colder months of the year some of you develop chilblains.

Chilblains, whilst being uncomfortable rarely cause any permanent damage. The present themselves as small red or purple bumps on the toes (and other extremities), they can be painful and itchy. Sometimes they break open and become ulcers which can lead to infection.

Chilblains are caused by sudden drops in temperature causing the small capillaries to constrict and prevent blood flow getting to the tips of the toes. Problems often occur when feet are warmed too quickly after being chilled.

Individuals most likely to be affected include:

  • The young or elderly
  • Those with poor circulation
  • People working in cold environments
  • Those that are not very active
  • Individuals who have anaemia


It is important not to scratch them even though they may be itchy. Scratching will increase the risk of the chilblains breaking open and becoming infected.

Unsurprisingly the best way of avoiding this condition in the first place is to keep the toes, feet and legs warm and if they do become chilled, warm them gradually.

Try to avoid wearing anything that constricts the feet, such as tight shoes or event tight hosiery, that can reduce the blood supply. Good quality shoes/hosiery rather than quantity is the better approach.

Lotions such as witch hazel and calamine can be soothing and creams like lanolin can help insulate the feet at night.

If the chilblains have broken causing a wound, antiseptic ointment should be used together with a sterile dressing. If you have a condition such as diabetes you may be more at risk of infection. If in doubt see your GP or call us to book an appointment with one of our podiatrist.

Lloyd Clark-Morris,Senior Podiatrist

Getting Ready for Winter Sports?

Prevention & Rehabilitation getting ready for Winter Sports

The slopes are calling and with a bit of luck you will be hitting the slopes? Is your body ready for this increased activity?

We often see people who have been inspired to suddenly increase their activity with various sports only to develop an injury because they did too much too quickly. As long as the injury isn’t too severe it does at least have a positive side – when you come to us for treatment we can help you to not only recover from the injury but get your body ready for any increased activity. We can make you stronger working with you and your body preparing for those tempting ski slopes.

Our specialist therapist Yulia works not only in rehabilitation (post-operative, post injury, preoperative) but also in prevention.

Yulia will work with you to develop a combined series of exercises and treatments that will make your body stronger. You will be able to take on extra activity confident in the knowledge that your body can cope.

We work with a wide variety of individuals including:-

  • Skiers
  • Snowboarders
  • Cyclists
  • Runners
  • Tri/Duathletes

Making your body stronger will improve your performance. Even if you don’t currently have an injury if you are thinking about increasing your activity, or have a few niggles that prevent you getting the best out of your activity, book an appointment with Yulia and see what a difference she can make.

If you would like to know more about Yulia follow this link to our team page.

Call our reception team to book your appointment today with Yulia.

Lack of Sleep?

Are you experiencing lack of sleep?

Since the start of lockdown, I have had a number of discussions with clients regarding their sleep, or rather lack of it !

Many people are going to bed later and laterwaking up several times in the nightwaking up with anxiety, or feeling groggy upon waking. Many studies have shown less than 7 hours sleep per night could make you 3x more likely to develop colds plus a wide variety of health issues, ranging from anxiety, depression, poor cognition, fatigue, and low immunity, to an increased risk of stroke and coronary artery disease

Top tips for better sleep !

  • Create a routine with a regular sleeping pattern (e.g. 10pm-7am each night).
  • Journal before bed to clear and calm your mind.
  • Make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary – if your desk is in there, try to move it to another room if you can. If working from home is going to be your reality for the months to come, it is imperative to keep ‘work’ and ‘home life’ separate.
  • Increase your daylight exposure e.g. light box for waking (such as Lumie), walk or run before work or on your lunch-break, evening walk to watch the sunset.
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet room – e.g. blackout blind, ear-plugs, eye-mask.
  • Increase daily movement outside to daylight exposure as well as physical activity, such as an early morning walk in the park.
  • Adjust the timing and frequency of your eating to ensure balanced blood glucose levels. Aim for 2 or 3 well-balanced main meals rich in good quality fats, protein, and plant fibre, minimise snacking, and make sure to consume all food within a maximum 12 hour eating window (e.g. 7am-7pm).

  • Reduce your evening exposure to blue light. Avoid technology at least 1 hour before bed and engage in a non-tech, calming mindful activity instead e.g. board-game, aromatherapy bath.
  • Minimise daily intake of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, all of which can disrupt sleep quality. Opt for healthy alternatives, such as herbal tea, a glass of chilled kombucha, and naturally sweetened snacks respectively instead.
  • Find a relaxation technique which you love and would enjoy practising on a daily basis, such as yoga, meditation, gardening, singing, reading fiction, jogging, or having a bath. Apps such as Calm and Headspace provide guided meditations and can help with a restful sleep.

Supplements for better sleep:

  • Magnesium has been used for centuries for its calming properties.
  • Vitamin B12 can potentially improve sleep, daytime wakefulness, and mood upon waking, by supporting melatonin synthesis ( sleep hormone)
  • Tryptophan is used to make serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin.
  • Lemon balm for its calming properties
  • L-Theanine can increase the production of alpha waves (associated with relaxation)
  • Taking probiotics may be another way to help you manage stress, therefore promoting healthy sleep. Certain strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus, can produce GABA[xviii] and also influence serotonin

If on medication always check with your GP or myself prior to taking supplements:

For further information on improving your health, diet and nutrition contact [email protected]

Cathy Foley 

Nutritional Therapist 

Food Sensitivity Tester 

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitus

What is the best treatment for Plantar Fasciitus

treatment for Plantar FasciitusPlantar fasciitis is one of the most common injuries that we see at the Theale Wellbeing Centre. It is the most frequent cause of chronic  heel pain usually where the fascia under the foot inserts into the heel bone. It is thought to have a mechanical origin and can be associated with increased body weight and lower limb biomechanical anomalies. Inflammation is only rarely observed and so anti-inflammatory agents (e.g. Ibuprofen) are unlikely to be of much help. The priority should be to speak to one of our podiatrists as soon as possible as an early intervention usually leads to a better outcome.

When managing Plantar Fasciitis, the following should be considered:  Taping may help in the early stage. If this proves beneficial in terms of pain relief and improved function, shoe inserts (orthotics) should be considered as part of a longer term solution. Calf and plantar fascia stretching should be undertaken regularly. Footwear should be assessed to ensure that it is appropriate for you. If the pain in the heel has been present for a prolonged period e.g. 6 months. One of  best treatment for Plantar Fasciitus is Shockwave therapy. The pain associated with Plantar fasciitis usually encourages sufferers to become more sedentary. As increased body weight predisposes someone to have plantar fasciitis it is important to have a plan that helps to maintain a healthy body weight.

Follow this link for more information about Heel Pain

In this video I explain how shockwave therapy can help with this condition



Michael graduated from the British School of Osteopathy in 1994 having decided at the age of 14 that he wanted to be an osteopath. He has gained considerable experience through working in a wide variety of practices in a number of different locations. He started Pangbourne Osteopathic Clinic shortly after he qualified and gradually built a busy and well-known practice. Having moved to Theale in 2010, the practice has continued to grow and is a very exciting place to work. He enjoys treating a wide range of people and has a particular interest in patients who have acute back or neck pain and sports injuries. He also treats a lot of chronic tendon problems using Shockwave Therapy. He is a consulting osteopath for Read Dance and Theatre College and is rapidly increasing his knowledge of dance related injuries.

Naomi is BACK

Naomi is back in the clinic

We are so excited – our team is coming together bit by bit and now Naomi is back offering massage therapys. Just to give you a little background about Naomi:-

Naoimi is BackNaomi Qualters-Fry BSc (Hons), Dip ISRM

Clinical Sports & Remedial Massage Therapist (level 5), Pregnancy & Postnatal Massage Therapist, Scar Therapist.

After completing a Sports and Exercise Science degree at the University of Brighton in 2004, I went on to become a personal trainer and sports massage therapist (level 3), training with Premier International.  The soft tissue side of my work was where my passion continued to grow and I went on to complete a Btech Diploma in Clinical Sports & Remedial Massage Therapy (Level 5) in 2009 with The London School of Massage.  In 2011 I then furthered this knowledge with Active Health Group, completing a Diploma in Sports Therapy.

I strongly believe that a lot of soft tissue complaints come from poor posture and muscle imbalances.  These imbalances need to be addressed, via strength and release work, to create a harmonious environment for our bodies to move in.

Since the birth of my two children my passion for pregnancy and postnatal therapies has grown.  In 2017 I studied with Burrell

Naomi is back

Image by Alfonso Cerezo via Pixabay

Education, the leading school for women’s therapies in the country, completing their Pregnancy and Postnatal Recovery Therapy course.  I have recently furthered this knowledge studying with Jenny Burrell herself in C-section, Hysterectomy and Abdominal Scar Immersion.  I feel that care for women postnatally, especial post C-section, is lacking and that there are a variety of things that can be done to reduce pain and discomfort, improve recovery and prevent future problems.

Here is a link to her most recent blog about breathing exercises to help with anxiety and stress.



Jumper’s Knee – Patella Tendinopathy

Patella tendinopathy (commonly referred to as “Jumper’s knee”)

jumper's kneeThis is characterised by localised pain just below the kneecap. This area can be very tender to touch, painful during sporting activity and stiff and achy after exercise. Jumper’s knee is an over-use injury associated with lots of running, kicking or jumping, especially if there are associated problems with the quadriceps muscles, foot biomechanics or training techniques.

Patella tendinopathy is associated with lots of strain on the tendon over a prolonged period which leads to degeneration of the collagen fibres which form the tendon. This is slightly different from patella tendinitis which infers a more acute inflammation of the tendon and can often settle with anti-inflammatory medication, the application of ice and a short period of rest.


In this video I will explain how shockwave therapy works on this condition.

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your knees give our reception team a call and we can arrange an appointment to check you out.


Michael graduated from the British School of Osteopathy in 1994 having decided at the age of 14 that he wanted to be an osteopath. He has gained considerable experience through working in a wide variety of practices in a number of different locations. He started Pangbourne Osteopathic Clinic shortly after he qualified and gradually built a busy and well-known practice. Having moved to Theale in 2010, the practice has continued to grow and is a very exciting place to work. He enjoys treating a wide range of people and has a particular interest in patients who have acute back or neck pain and sports injuries. He also treats a lot of chronic tendon problems using Shockwave Therapy. He is a consulting osteopath for Read Dance and Theatre College and is rapidly increasing his knowledge of dance related injuries.

NEW Nail Reconstruction product and you can have it NOW

Nail Reconstruction is now available with a NEW product

nail reconstructionMandy and Ali are pleased to announce that they are able to offer nail reconstruction once again.  They are now using a new and more advanced product, called Pedisafe, which gives a lovely, natural look.  However, nail varnish can be applied on top, if you prefer a bit of colour. As always, they use a medical model when applying the reconstruction in order to eliminate the risk of cross infection.

PediSafe, developed in Canada by Fanair Cosmetics, is a remodelling, nail enhancing and correction system.

How Does it work?

A flexible gel is applied in layers to the nail bed that recreates the appearance of a nail. Because of its flexibility the new ‘nail’ is able to cope with the every day stresses our feet go through. In addition this flexibility allows the gel to grow with the nail. The new nails can be left natural or polish can be added for a colourful effect.

What are the benefits?

Whilst the main benefit is cosmetic this product also helps to promote healthy nail regrowth. At this time of the year with summer upon us having healthy looking tow nails can be a real boost to our confidence and wellbeing.

Nail reconstructionWho can benefit?

Anyone suffering from the following can benefit from toe nail reconstruction:-

  • Thick and/or discoloured nails
  • Cracked/broken nails
  • Fungal nails
  • Missing nails

How long do they last?

On average the new ‘nails’ will last about 6-8weeks depending on the base nail. If there is no nail at all then it is probable that it will only last a few days. You can however use a hypoallergenic nail glue to reattach it for special occasions.

Mandy & Ali are happy to discuss your individual needs – give us a call to make an appointment.



Breathing exercises to reduce stress & anxiety

Breathing exercises to reduce stress & anxiety

Breathing Exercises

Image by Oregongal on Pixabay

Life is stressful!  There is no getting away from it, all of us face some sort of stress in our lives, sometimes on a daily basis.  Stress is a response to a threat in a situation, stress from work, from responsibilities – work or family related, relationship issues, sickness, loss of a loved one, money, the list goes on.  Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.

So, what is happening to our bodies when we are faced with chronic stress and anxiety?

Stress and anxiety activate the autonomic nervous system, the flight or fight response, which can affect the body in a number of physiological ways, including; an increase in heart rate, heart palpitations, shallow breathing, shortness of breath, chest pains, sweating, headaches, insomnia, irritability, uncontrollable muscle tension, trembling, feeling faint, tingling in hands, arms, legs.  Tightness in the throat, dry mouth, problems with speech and a feeling of losing control.

You can learn how to reduce the impact of stress and manage your symptoms by learning techniques to positively affect your nervous system by down regulating the autonomic nervous system (fight or flight) and upregulating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).

breathing exercises

Image by Pexels via Pixabay

The parasympathetic nervous system is controlled by the longest nerve in the body, the vagus nerve.

In order to have good control of the vagus nerve over your heart rate, we need good vagal tone.  Vagal tone is the difference between your heart rate when you are inhaling and your heart rate when you are exhaling.  Typically, when you inhale, your heart rate speeds up slightly and when you exhale it lowers.  The bigger the difference between your heart rate during inhalation and exhalation means your vagal tone is higher, which is good as this means you are more able to relax your body after a stressful situation, so vagal tone is key to activating your parasympathetic nervous system.

Apart from being able to relax faster after a stressful situation, a higher vagal tone also means you have better functioning systems;

  • Better blood sugar regulation.
  • Decreased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
  • Generally lower blood pressure.
  • Better digestion, due to proper production of digestive enzymes.
  • Fewer migraines.
  • Less depression.

Image by Phúc Mã via Pixabay

One of the ways we can positively affect our vagal tone and therefore parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the impact of stress and anxiety, is through breath work.

In order to breathe fully and functionally, the diaphragm, our main respiratory muscle, must be able to expand and contract to its full ability.  Studies have shown that in situations of tension and emotional stress, the diaphragm shows hypertonicity by becoming flattened and immobile, inhibiting it from expanding fully, our oxygen intake reducing, and in turn, causing shorter, shallower breaths.

The overall aims of these breathing strategies are to breathe fully, deeply and functionally and to slow down your breathing and heart rate, lowering stress and anxiety levels.

Find yourself somewhere as quiet and as relaxing as possible to sit, away from any stressors, any technology and allow yourself to have some time for you.  Try some of the following breathing exercises and find the one that works best for you.


360 breathing – a technique to improve the 360 expansion of your lungs and respiratory muscles, use your hands on the areas that you can reach so you can feel that you are breathing into the correct area.  You are wanting to feel just a gentle swell in each of these areas.

  • Taking a deep breath in, focus on breathing into your chest, slowly breathe out.
  • Taking a deep breath in, focus on breathing into your abdominal wall, slowly breathe out.
  • Taking a deep breath in, focus on breathing into ribs, expanding to the sides, breathe out slowly.
  • Taking a deep breath in, focus on breathing into the middle of your back, breathe out slowly.
  • On your next breath in focus on expanding into all of these areas, your chest, abdominal wall, ribs and the middle of your back. Slowly breathe out.
  • Try breathing in for a count of 4, pausing and then breathing out for a count of 4.
  • Continue this for 5 minutes.


Image by Alfonso Cerezo via Pixabay

Square breathing – Square breathing can connect you more deeply with your body, calm your nervous system, and decrease stress in your body.                               

  • Breathe in for a count of 4
  • Hold for a count of 4
  • Breathe out for a count of 4
  • Hold for a count of 4
  • Repeat for 5 minutes

Alternate nostril breathing – is a simple yet powerful yogic breath technique that settles the mind, body and emotions.

  • Close your right nostril with your thumb
  • Inhale through your left nostril
  • Release your right thumb and close your left nostril with your index finger.
  • Exhale through your right nostril
  • Inhale through your right nostril, close your right nostril with your thumb.
  • Exhale through your left nostril
  • Repeat the circuit, aiming for equal inhales and exhales, working up to 4 count breaths then 8 count breaths.


  1. Try not to force the breath
  2. Don’t be tempted to speed up the counting during exhalation.
  3. Stop if you experience any discomfort
  4. Allow your breathing to return to normal before standing up and moving.

As adults we don’t take enough, if any, rest, we are on the go constantly moving from one thing to the next.  Try incorporating 5 minutes of breath work into your daily lives, whether you need to take a break during a stressful day at work or maybe take the time 5 minutes before bed to really try to rid yourself of the days stressors, slowing your breathing and heart rate down and preparing your body and mind for a good night’s sleep.

Improving your breath through breathing strategies and massage can not only help to improve your levels and coping mechanisms of stress and anxiety, but improving your breathing can also help to improve back pain, pelvic floor function and the effects of conditions such as COPD and asthma.

We breathe 18-20,000 times a day, why not make some of them count?!

If you are really struggling to manage your stress and anxiety levels please seek help, you are not alone.   Here is a link to the NHS stress and anxiety page.

If you are interested in finding out more about any of the therapies we offer, that can help with stress and anxiety, please contact the clinic.

Naomi Qualters-Fry BSc Hons, ISRM

Clinical sports massage therapist, Pregnancy & postnatal soft tissue therapist, Scar massage therapist

Orthotics (shoe inserts)

Orthotics – what they are, what they help and how they work

Orthotics, or orthoses are inserts/insoles that go inside your footwear to help you with foot pain. When I was training in the 90’s we believed that these orthoses would help correct your foot position and potentially prevent injury. However, over the last 10 to 15 years this thinking has changed and as a result we have had to change the way we use and prescribe orthoses. This has been backed up through quality scientific research and study. We now use orthoses to help directly with foot and lower limb pain. In the majority of cases we only need to use them for relatively short periods of time to allow the damaged area of the foot to recover. However, in some cases, the injury may not be repairable, like osteoarthritis, or take a long time to repair, like a tendon injury, in which case we may recommend that you use orthoses for an extended period of time. In the event of major deformity or previous major injury it may be advantageous to use them on a permanent basis. It is a requirement of our professional registration with the Healthcare Professions Council that we follow evidence-based medicine at all times and all of the treatments and recommendations occur for orthoses are backed up through up-to-date research papers.

The orthoses will be specifically designed with the shape of your foot and only the injury you are suffering from in mind. There are some types of orthoses that are prefabricated and have characteristics to help with certain common conditions. If your foot and problem is suitable for this type of device you will be given that option.

Once your history has been discussed and an examination of your foot and ankle has taken place, your podiatrist will discuss the best options available to you. In most cases you will be given multiple treatment options that can be combined to give you the best result. We will often use an exercise plan, shock wave therapy, or possibly injection therapy in combination with orthoses. We will talk you through the pros and cons of each of these options and how they combine to give you a powerful treatment model. The ultimate decision for all treatment rests with you but we can give you the information you need to make your choice.

If you decide to go ahead with orthoses we would take a model of your foot either with a three-dimensional scanner or with an impression box. Your podiatrist will then write the prescription with the information gathered from your history and their examination. The topography of design is important as it will be this that will help rest the damaged areas of your foot and give them time to recover.

In some cases it may be desirable to have multiple sets of orthoses and this can be catered for. We always suggest your initial set is designed for cross purpose use and is often designed in carbon fibre minimising bulk and allowing them to be worn in a wide variety of footwear. As your foot model data is stored electronically additional pairs of orthotics can be ordered easily although periodically we will suggest that you pop in for a rescan to assess any changes that may have occurred.

We always look to fit the orthoses into your chosen footwear and adjustments can be made to help accommodate this. We do recommend you gradually wear in the orthoses, particularly the sport, but often people get used to them quite quickly. All our custom-built orthotic shells come with a lifetime guarantee against breakage from normal activities.

Once your foot pain is reducing we may look to make adjustments to the orthoses or possibly transition you out of the orthoses with a rehabilitation plan. In some cases this may take a while. However, contrary to popular belief there is no detriment to continuing to wear the orthoses if you find them comfortable, as long as you do the rehabilitation plan. Evidence has proven that orthoses do not weaken your foot in fact they do quite the opposite which is why we are usually able to eventually stop using them.

One of the more difficult issues we come across are historical prescribing of orthoses particularly with children. As we know children have this annoying habit of growing which means that an orthosis that could have been issued as recently as six months prior may no longer fit or be suitable for that child. It is important that the child is reassessed regularly as only on very rare occasions will orthoses need to be continually used. One of the worst reasons for prescribing orthoses that can be given is that the person has had orthoses previously. Where possible we will look to use a cheaper off-the-shelf orthoses with children to reduce the financial burden on parents or guardians.



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